Given the fact that I have four children, and I had them all on my schedule — well, not my oldest, kind of, but that’s a story for another day, I can honestly say that the statistics for mother and child mortality because of lack of ability to family plan is staggering. The fact that the reproductive rights of women are still questioned makes me sad.
When EngenderHealth reached out to me to write about the different family planning issues that women in different countries face, and how they are helping make sure that every woman has the amount of children that they want, when they want and in a safe manner, I was very excited to participate.
I was able to read about three very different women who have all been able to benefit from different aspects of EngenderHealth’s work, such as programs to help with postpartum hemorrhaging, obstetric fistulas, and child spacing. The thing is, while they may have been different as far as countries that they reside in, and the amount of children that they have, they all had one thing in common: the lack of information to help them with different aspects of maternal care and family planning.
Rashida for example, experienced life-threatening hemorrhaging each time she each of her five children. This pregnancy, her sixth, she found out that she was going to be delivering twins. This time however, she was visited by a government health worker trained by EngenderHealth, who was able to prescribe a 50 cent pill that would help slow the bleeding after the birth of her twins, and essentially keep Rashida out of a very dangerous circumstance. Excessive bleeding not only affects the mother’s ability to tend to her newborn, it makes it nearly impossible to function because energy levels are low because of the rapid loss of blood.
Being able to space children out so that you are able to tackle things in your life at a pace that is comfortable for you is something that I’m sure many of us in the US don’t think too deeply about. For Mariam, however, being able to space her children was a life-changing opportunity. She was able to send both of her children to school and focus on a business that she and her husband run together, without worrying about her becoming pregnant at a time that would be inconvenient for her or her family. She and her husband are now ready for children, and she has the freedom to choose when she and her husband are ready to add more to their family.
I cannot imagine what life would look like if my husband and I weren’t able to plan our children out the way that we did. We spaced our first two eight years apart, and then decided we were ready to have our third – or our third and fourth – two years after we had our second, and now that we’re fairly sure that we are done, I’m not worrying about any surprise pregnancies. It’s invaluable to me that avoiding pregnancy is not a HUGE thought process for me is invaluable, so I can understand that when ladies who formerly weren’t privy to family planning can get it, there is a huge burden lifted. They are put in the driver’s seat of their maternal and reproductive health, and it’s awesome!
Because of my ability to plan, I have four children. I still kind of throw around the idea of having two more (I have an issue with odd numbers of children, but it’s not a game changer) while my husband gets wide eyed at the mention. But we have a choice, and that’s what everyone in this world should have as well.
EngenderHealth is working to raise awareness among Americans of the importance of access to contraception around the world. In September, EngenderHealth is launching a national campaign that asks ‘WTFP – Where’s the Family Planning?!’
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